Health insurance complaints rise 30 percent, breaking previous records

Health Insurance Complaints - Frustrated Woman

The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman recorded a striking spike in the number of complaints filed.

The total number of health insurance complaints rose by 30 percent from 2016 to 2017, says the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman in Australia. The Ombudsman recorded the massive rise in the number of filings it received, bringing the total to 5750 in 2016-2017.

There were many issues involved in the complaints, but the majority were driven by Medibank.

The Ombudsman’s most recent State of the Health Funds report said that the “increase of over 1300 complaints within one year … is the largest rise we have experienced over the past 10 years.” That report also pointed out that of all the health insurance complaints made in Australia, Medibank accounted for nearly a quarter (23.5 percent) over the last decade.

Australians have been voicing a growing amount of frustration with the private health insurance coverage they have been receiving. This is not surprising considering the 70 percent increase in premiums they have seen over the last ten years. Their policies now also contain more exclusions and the gap fees are rising.

The health insurance complaints also align with the sharp drop in the number of Australians with hospital cover.

According to the report, 12,000 Australians dropped their hospital coverage in the last quarter of 2017. This, despite the efforts of Prime Minister Turnbull’s government to bring health care reforms that would designate gold, silver, bronze and basic policies. The reforms would also make policies cheaper for younger policyholders.

Last year, Medibank accounted for 46.3 percent of all health plan complaints. This, despite the fact that the insurer has only a 26.9 percent market share. The number of complaints against Medibank was driven by two massive IT problems. The first involved issuing delayed tax statements. The second caused the company to withdraw the wrong amount of money from policyholder bank accounts.

Australians continue to express frustration over the private medical coverage they receive. The trend in the country is taking a negative direction. Health insurance complaints are rapidly on the rise while thousands of people throughout the country have been cancelling their hospital cover altogether.

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